When my Dad passed away a few months ago I wanted to write a tribute to honor him.
I wanted to share just how special he truly was.
Every night when I’d lay my head down, the words (and tears) would flow.
I never wrote them down, the feelings were still too tender.
The other night, I had a dream about him that was so real I didn’t want to wake up.
I still miss him!
I grew up in the middle of a family of 7 living in a small 900 square foot house.
What the home lacked in size, we made up for with love.
This past month, we started the tedious task of sorting through all of the “memories”
and stuff stored in our childhood home for the past 58 years.
As challenging as it feels,
we always stop, share and get excited by the little treasures that we find.
This home holds a lot of memories.
My Dad was a hard-working man…
he worked on the railroad as a Switchman for over 40 years.
Recently he told me that on his last day of work he was supposed to turn in his switchman key.
He decided to keep it for a souvenir.
He kept it in his pocket as a keychain for the next 21 years.
Growing up in a house with 4 girls (and one boy) we did a lot of “girl” things with Mom.
As we grew older it was not uncommon for us to be shopping with Mom, talking
on the phone, having lunch out, going to the movies. Having a Girls Night.
It wasn’t until after my Mom died, when Dad started coming over regularly for dinner
that our real closeness happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved my Dad,
I just never really had one on one time with him until then. Mom was always there.
During those years, Dad and I had our shows that we watched together (a lot of NCIS)
and when my husband was out of town he’d take me to dinner.
I’d never had a father/daughter date.
My Dad was a man of faith. He believed with his whole heart.
Being a quiet man…it took me a little off guard, when during his
cancer struggles last year, he became very vocal in his faith.
I never tried to stop him, but I must admit I squirmed a bit at times.
During one of his visits to the University Hospital he was attended by a new doctor.
As the appointment was ending, I was sitting there thinking to myself.
Hmmm…he’s not going to do it.
As the doctor was leaving, his hand on the door, he looked over and said…
“you look like you have a question to ask.”
Dad smiled and said “Do you know Jesus?”
At times, it was apparent he made some feel uncomfortable…
while others told us how wonderful and sweet he was.
Some even told us he made a difference in their life.
I had to remind Dad often he was planting seeds.
He felt like over the last year… with all the many doctors, nurses and
technicians that he met, during the course of 3 surgeries and radiation,
that it was his mission to spread the word.
In his last month of life, after a bad fall,
he spent 2 weeks in the hospital and one in a nursing home.
While none of us were totally prepared, he gave us 3 weeks to say good-bye.
He told me not long before his fall…”I’m 86, I won’t be here forever”.
“When I die, you will grieve for a while,
then I want you to be happy, because I will be happy”.
On the night that he died, when he took his last breath,
he opened his eyes, a smile on his face and a tear in his eye.
I believe he is happy.